Top 15 products of 2015

Posted on December 20, 2015 under Favourites

You guys are probably bracing yourselves for a flood of these posts, so let’s skip the lengthy introduction and get right into it. These products were not necessarily launched in 2015, but I discovered each of them this year.

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LORAC Pro palette

I may just be the last person on earth to discover this palette – but timing notwithstanding, I’m glad I did. From the moment it came into my possession this summer, I’ve scarcely put it down. I firmly believe that it’s the perfect neutral palette – every shade is pigmented and blendable, there’s an even mixture of mattes and shimmers, and there are the standard neutral colours and a few interesting ones. Without a doubt if I could only have one palette it would be this one. My only complaint is that LORAC is so hard to get ahold of in Canada!

MAC 217 brush

I know there are people who don’t think this brush lives up to its hype, but clearly I’m not one of them. I didn’t realize how inadequate the blending brush I had was until this one came into my life this summer. I feel like a good blending brush is one of the most important makeup tools a person can have in their arsenal, and this is the best one I’ve used so far.

Lancôme Hypnôse mascara

I hate when absurdly-priced products are actually good, don’t you? I’m viscerally opposed to paying Sephora prices for mascara; there are good options at the drugstore, samples are aplenty, and I cannot make myself pay $30+ for something that’s supposed to be thrown out after three months. I got this as a gift from my wonderful friend Kristin, and it really is as good as everyone says. You may know from previous mascara reviews that mascara does not excite me; I rarely hate them and I rarely love them. So for this to wow me really means something. It builds volume and length effortlessly and is not the least bit clumpy. It also doesn’t flake or smudge under my eyes at all. Basically, it’s totally worth the hype. Would I pay full price for it? No. Would I spend Shoppers Optimum points to get it again? Yes. Definitely.

Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil

Black eye pencils are obviously a staple in most people’s makeup routines, but it can be difficult to find the right one. I’ve struggled to find one that was opaque, soft, smooth, and that actually stayed put. This one is perfect for tightlining as it absolutely does not transfer onto my lower waterline at all, and it takes forever to fade. The texture is perfect – it glides on comfortably and doesn’t scratch my delicate eyes. And it is truly a rich, opaque black. All in all, this is seriously the perfect black pencil.

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NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Cruella

Have you ever tried an oft-talked-about beauty product and thought, “Yep, I get it now”? That was my experience with this lip product. Obviously, most of us North American beauty lovers are now in possession of a mini of it thanks to the Sephora birthday gift – and can I just say, what a great birthday gift it is! 2013 and 2014’s offerings didn’t do much for me, but this one was legitimately great. There is nothing I don’t love about Cruella. The colour is dramatic and beautiful; it glides on so smoothly (and accurately, thanks to the shape of the pencil); it lasts forever. The moment I put it on my lips I thought Where have you been all my life?

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes

I was not a fan of the much-hyped Ambient Lighting Powders, but the blushes are worth every penny of their $41 CAD price tag. Never have I encountered such soft, blendable, long-lasting blushes with the perfect level of pigmentation and the slightly glow-y effect afforded by the swirls of ALPs throughout the pan. I just wish they’d bring out more shades! (Since taking this picture I’ve added another one to my collection, which means there’s only one colour left that I really want. Please expand the line, Hourglass!!!)

Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished

This is the most-loved highlighter in my collection; it works so well with my fair, cool skin and is simply gorgeous on its own. It’s pearlescent and ethereal and I will never stop loving it. A makeup product hasn’t excited me this much in ages.

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Boots Botanics Replenishing Night Cream

I purchased this night cream for only £4 – bargain! However, even at its full price of £8, it’s hardly prohibitively expensive. I reviewed it positively about six weeks into using it, and having finished the tub I can say that I would absolutely repurchase it if I could get it here in Canada! My face always felt soft, smooth, supple, and healthy in the mornings when I was using this, which is no small feat considering I’m chronically dry. The smell was also divine. If I make it back to the UK I will be popping into Boots posthaste to get another tub of this!

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum

This serum made such a huge difference when used under my night cream. Whereas most people seem to suffer from oiliness in their T-zone, my nose is absolutely parched and flaky year-round. This serum has been extremely effective at combatting this particular problem, but it’s still a lightweight texture that sinks in instantly. I absolutely adore it and will most likely repurchase it when I run out.

Marina Miracle Sweet & Creamy Oil Cleanser*

I adore this cleanser. I adore that although it contains oils it’s a creamy texture, meaning it’s not as messy to use as a regular oil. I adore how well it gets my makeup off. I adore that it washes off easily without leaving an oily film on my skin. I adore how supple and hydrated it makes my skin. I adore the smell. It’s the best cleanser I’ve ever used, and I do not say that lightly!

Arbonne Intelligence Lip Treatment*

This is another product that I did not want to like on the basis of its price ($46 CAD), but I really do love it. For such a lightweight, unobtrusive texture, it does a great job at keeping my perpetually chapped lips looking and feeling reasonable. It’s effective on its own during the day, and at night I like to seal it in with a layer of Vaseline to trap all that moisture. I always wake up with the softest lips!

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+*

I was sceptical about this product’s ability to perform well enough to do something about my KP-ravaged arms and legs considering its thin texture. And while it does sink in quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy or sticky cast, somehow it manages to do to my legs what almost no other body product has.

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Avène High Protection Spray SPF 50+

This sunscreen is the perfect product for a) lazy people who hate spending more than 20 seconds applying sunscreen to their bodies, b) people who hate the greasy feeling most sunscreens leave, or c) all of the above. This sunscreen is singlehandedly responsible for my skin getting not a lick of sun this summer.

L’Occitane Almond Oil

If it looks like I haven’t touched this bottle, it’s because I haven’t! I’ve already used up a mini, and I finally treated myself to a full size bottle the other day. I feel a bit silly dropping $24 on almond oil, but it is that good. I use it to shave my legs, and despite it being on my skin for only a fleeting moment before being washed off, I swear my legs feel amazing straight out of the shower. And you only need the tiniest bit, so $24 CAD goes a long, long way. This is one of those products that is undeniably an indulgence – but it’s one of my favourite indulgences ever.

Ice Cream Dry-T hair mask

You guys are probably sick of me talking about how damaged my hair is. I’m stubborn and continue bleaching my roots every few months, and one day my hair will all fall out of my head at once, but that day is being delayed by this hair mask. My hair actually, miraculously, feels smooth, soft, and alive when I use this (which is every time I wash my hair, because otherwise I can’t run a brush through it). It’s nothing short of a miracle. And at only $10 for a 500mL tub, I don’t even feel bad buying it.

2015 was a great year in terms of beauty discoveries – I found some fun things as well as some things that have become can’t-live-without-it, would-follow-it-into-hell staples in my beauty stash. Not too bad!

I’m working non-stop this month (ah, retail in December), so I’m not sure if I’ll have another post for you guys before 2016. In the event that this is my last post of 2015, I hope your holidays are relaxing and fun and your new year brings you only good things!

Cold Weather 2015 Favourites

Posted on November 16, 2015 under Favourites

I know it feels like fall has just arrived in a lot of places, but here in Montreal winter could come at any moment. We haven’t had real snow yet, just a tiny bit that melts as soon as it hits the ground, but it’s imminent. I suppose these are my fall favourites, but let’s call them cold weather favourites as most of them will transition well into winter.

theBalm Balm Jovi Palette

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This palette has been in my collection for years and is tragically neglected, so I’ve been making a point of pulling it out these past few weeks. It contains some perfect fall shades, and the shadows are generally of a great quality – pigmented and blendable. A bunch of these shadows make for beautiful one-shadow looks, a few of which you’ll see in an upcoming post.

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A few of my favourite shades: Alice Copper, Lead Zeppelin, and Moderato.

Wet N Wild Silent Treatment trio eyelid colour

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I predicted this would get a lot of use this fall, and so far I have been correct. It’s one of my favourite eyeshadow colours, period – this shimmery taupe-y purple is just so special and absolutely beautiful on the lids. It’s neutral but still interesting. It’s also gorgeous to work with; it’s so soft and blendable, and true to the colour in the pan. I sneak this into my makeup year-round, but I think it’s especially suited to fall.

Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil

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My coworker received this as gratis but gave it to me because she doesn’t like waterproof eyeliner, and wow am I glad. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure! I use this pencil to tightline every day and it lasts all day without transferring to my lower waterline. It’s creamy and does not irritate my eyes whatsoever. On my top lashline, it transfers a bit, but it’s honestly the least transfer I’ve ever experienced from a pencil liner. It’s definitely a pretty penny, but I’d repurchase it for sure. (Also, it has since been sharpened. This picture was taken post-Halloween, when it was used to scribble all over various faces.)

Arbonne Intelligence Lip Treatment*

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My lips have never been in better shape and that’s all there is to that. If you’re interested in the full review, I went more into detail in a previous post.

Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry and MAC Lipstick in Rebel

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Sultry and Rebel could not be more different if they tried, but I have been wearing both of them non-stop this fall. Sultry is a gorgeous mixture of brown, pink, and red – I never know quite how to describe it. On my colouring, it’s a bit more deep and dramatic, but still on the neutral side of things. It’s the type of colour that goes so well with the rich browns and bronzes of fall. Rebel is obviously a statement shade, and it’s been one of my favourites for ages. It’s the most beautiful, singular magenta, and it’s my favourite lipstick colour ever. It suits this time of year so well, and it basically has not come off my lips in weeks.

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Sultry on the left, Rebel on the right. Obviously.

Oversized mug

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As you may know, I am big on staying hydrated. But when it gets colder, drinking a bottle of cold water is often the last thing I want to do. However, it’s tedious to continually make small cups of tea that amount to tiny volumes of water. Remembering the big mug I had in Glasgow last year (purchased from Primark, in case anyone is on the hunt), I hit up Dollarama to replace that sucker. This mug holds 500mL of tea, and it keeps me very, very warm. I am in love with it.

(Also, don’t mind Justin Trudeau staring at you. It’s a long story that involves cutting a 5 foot campaign sign down off a post at 3am and bringing it into our home. Okay, that’s the story. It’s actually pretty short.)

H&M Blanket Scarf

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I’m pretty sure that whoever invented blanket scarves was Canadian, because there is nothing more suited to this nation. I think the best coping mechanism for a Canadian winter is to just encase yourself in as many textiles as possible. And also to cry at the fact that the sun goes down at 4:30pm and it’s -40 degrees outside. Blanket scarves are, obviously, perfect for outdoors, but they are also extremely versatile when inside. Mine basically has not left my body since I purchased it. Multiple times, I have found myself on my sofa, nodding off after 17 hours of readings, and covered myself with the scarf and had a very warm and comfortable nap. And there is just something very, very appealing about literally wearing a blanket outside.

Zara Glitter Boots

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Just look at these boots and try to tell me that they aren’t the answer to every possible question or problem life could ever come up with. They are perfect. Granted, they were me settling because I can’t afford the Saint Laurent version that Harry Styles wore in SNL in December 2013, but they’ll do.

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These are like four billion dollars.

Theorem

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It seems that I am a fan of weird foreign 1960s films, a fact about myself which I kind of hate. But there’s no denying it – my favourite film of all time is Daisies, a Czech new wave film.

I watched Theorem for my Italian cinema class, and I was blown away by it. Given that it’s an art house film, it’s the type of thing that must be watched to be understood. The plot is very simple: an Italian bourgeois family is mysteriously visited by a stranger, who sleeps with each of them and who leaves abruptly. His departure makes each family member realize that there is a massive void in their bourgeois existence. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but it’s a beautiful film. There’s hardly any dialogue; most of it just music and images. Definitely the best thing I’ve watched for school this semester.

Baking and Cooking

I know I’m not the only one who always develops a time-consuming interest at the end of the semester, as a distraction from the piles of work I have to do. This semester I have been very into baking, which is productive and delicious enough that I can’t be too mad about it. My roommate and I have also instituted weekly Adult Nights where we cook a real meal together, and although I normally dislike cooking I always have such a good time when we cook together. Here are some of the creations to come out of my kitchen recently…

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I’ve made four pies so far and I have finally perfected a flaky, wonderful crust. Pictured is pumpkin pie with a brown sugar pecan glaze.

Katie and I made white pizza last night and it was AMAZING! The thin crust recipe we used was perfect, and our toppings of garlic, onion, mushroom, broccoli, and chicken were absolutely delicious. We still have 4 slices leftover, so that’s a few dinners sorted…

favourites-bagels

At 9pm the other day I got a bee in my bonnet about bagels, and so I made some! It took me about two hours, but it was worth it. They’re not quite as good as St. Viateur, but I’m really impressed with the recipe.

Next up: scones.

Those are my recent favourites – a bunch of stuff that has been keeping me warm, inside and out, in the increasingly cold weather.

Product marked with an asterisk was sent to me for review purposes. All opinions remain my own.

Summer 2015 Favourites

Posted on August 25, 2015 under Favourites

My summer vacation is winding to a close; in a week I’ll head back to Montreal to complete my degree. (That was a very casual statement, but internally I am freaking out that I only have two semesters left of my undergrad!) As such, this seems like as good a time as any to share some things I loved this summer. Here are a bunch of beauty favourites and a few non-beauty things I enjoyed.

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On the skincare side of things, I first must mention La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60, which has kept my pale, pale face free of burns all summer. A new discovery for me is Vichy’s Aqualia Thermal Serum, which I use a few times a week when my poor dry skin needs a little extra pep. Curiously, my face defied convention by being fine during the winter and a flaky, dry mess as soon as summer hit; this serum applied underneath my regular moisturizer gives my face a noticeable boost in moisture and eliminates the flaky patches around my nose and between my eyebrows.

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I forced myself to use up my bottle of ColorStay before moving back to Revlon Nearly Naked Liquid Makeup in 110 Ivory, and boy did I miss it! I love this foundation year-round, but it’s especially perfect for summer since it’s lightweight and dewy without looking greasy. (Yeah, like I need to look like I’m sweating more than I actually am!) It also doesn’t break the bank, which makes it perfect to go back to again and again.

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I was very into cheek products this summer, from Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone, which was the perfect intense yellow-toned highlight for my fair skin to my beloved Body Shop Honey Bronzer in Fair Matte, which is a beautiful natural bronzer for those of us who look like we don’t get much sun (but want to pretend we do).

Two blushes reigned victorious for me this summer: Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso and Hourlgass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush, which I reached for a combined total of approximately seventy bazillion times throughout the warmer months. Luminoso actually took me a year to warm up to after I initially hauled it on a trip to upstate New York, mainly because I wasn’t sure about peaches on my complexion. I surprised myself by using it so often this summer, but it is the perfect easy, glowy, warm summer shade. As for Luminous Flush, I wore it for two weeks straight after I first got it, which is rare for me. I always switch up my makeup! The Hourglass blushes are so worth the money – they have the perfect amount of pigmentation, they’re a dream to apply and blend, and they last through 10+ hours (and lots of sweat). Luminous Flush in particular is a gorgeous warm pink that seems playful and carefree.

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Everyone loves swatches!

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Two of my eyeshadow palettes got a lot of love this summer. I found myself wanting to put minimal effort into the eyes quite often, which called for my (well-loved) Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. When I wanted something a bit more complex, I could not get enough of everyone’s favourite neutral palette, the LORAC Pro. It has basically every colour a neutral lover could wish for! I used my MAC 217 eyeshadow brush, a birthday gift from my friend Hayley, constantly to blend everything beautifully. I don’t know if it’s quite worth the constant hype it receives, but I do see why it’s a staple in many a makeup bag. Are there solid, less expensive alternatives? Yes. Am I glad I have it? Hell yes!

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Although I have a deep and abiding love for bold lipstick, this summer I loved quick, neutral looks. Rimmel’s Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 08 was my go-to for this. The slightly brownish pink goes with everything, and I used it at least once a week – which is definitely saying something when you consider how many lip products I have!

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red is easily my holy grail true red through every season of the year. This summer it was my most-used bold lipstick, probably because it’s such a classic colour and the formula is truly a dream.

summer-favourites-nails

You guys probably know how obsessed I am with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue (more on that soon!). I will wear this nail polish year round, whenever I feel like it, but I especially like it in the summer. That electric blue is perfect for the weather and takes me back to my warm January weekend in Marrakech when I got to see bleu Majorelle in person. I’m still on the hunt for a replacement, though, as I still cannot get behind the new Pacific Blue that looks nothing like the old one.

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I had a few non-beauty favourites as well. H&M did me a solid with a gorgeous pair of high-waisted, tie-front black shorts that went with everything and instantly made a simple black tank top or a band t-shirt seem that much more deliberate.

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I got my ears pierced in Edinburgh in March and got to take my starter studs out in May. This summer I was very into stud earrings! I love the triangular prisms from H&M because they’re simple but a bit different, and the flowers were a gift from my brother’s girlfriend. The jury is out on whether they’re roses or tulips, though I’m hoping for roses since they’re my birth flower. (I have two roses tattooed on my body, so I’m pretty serious about the whole thing.)

In terms of entertainment, I’ve recently been very into novels written by women. (This year one of my goals was for 75% of the books I read to be by women, and so far I’m batting 1000!) I loved Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places (possibly more than Gone Girl?) for its twisted, fast-paced plot that never dragged. I’m about 3/4 of the way through Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and I can barely put it down. The writing is lush and provocative and the story has me hooked.

Finally, this summer I watched all 202 episodes of The X-Files (and both films) in a month and a day, which I personally consider quite an accomplishment. I also took about a month of from this blog back in June and July, which is no accident – I simply spent every spare moment getting sucked into Mulder and Scully’s world. They made me believe in love, okay?! I haven’t had the heart to dive into a new television series since I finished The X-Files over a month ago; it’s going to take me awhile to open my heart to something new.

And there we have it: everything I loved this summer. Here’s to a fantastic fall semester full of new discoveries, beauty-related and otherwise.